United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- 1 Vacancy warning level
- 2 Active judges
- 3 Jurisdiction
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable cases
- 6 History
- 7 Former judges
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is one of the thirteen federal appellate courts. The court was established in 1891 and has fourteen posts. The Third Circuit shares the James A. Byrne Federal Courthouse with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Vacancy warning level
|Felipe Restrepo||University of Pennsylvania, 1981||Tulane Law, 1986|
Article III judges
|Judge Joseph Greenaway||1957||England||Obama||2/9/2010-Present||Samuel Alito||Columbia University, 1978||Harvard Law School, 1981|
|Judge Patty Shwartz||1961||Paterson, NJ||Obama||4/9/2013-Present||Maryanne Barry||Rutgers College, 1983||University of Pennsylvania Law, 1986|
|Judge Thomas Vanaskie||1953||Shamokin, PA||Obama||4/21/2010-Present||Franklin Van Antwerpen||Lycoming College, 1975||Dickinson School of Law, 1978|
|Chief Judge Theodore McKee||1947||Rochester, NY||Clinton||6/9/1994-Present||2010-Present||Leon Higginbotham, Jr.||SUNY Cortland, 1969||Syracuse Law, 1975|
|Judge Marjorie Rendell||1947||Wilmington, DE||Clinton||9/29/1997-Present||William Hutchinson||University of Pennsylvania, 1969||Villanova University, 1973|
|Judge Thomas Ambro||1949||Cambridge, OH||Clinton||02/16/2000 - Present||Walter Stapleton||Georgetown '71||Georgetown Law '75|
|Judge Julio Fuentes||1946||Humacao, PR||Clinton||3/9/2000-Present||Robert Cowen||Southern Illinois University, 1971||SUNY Buffalo Law, 1975|
|Judge Brooks Smith||1951||Altoona, PA||W. Bush||8/2/2002-Present||Timothy Lewis||Franklin and Marshall College, 1973||Dickinson School of Law, 1976|
|Judge Michael Fisher||1944||Pittsburgh, PA||W. Bush||12/11/2003 - Present||Carol Mansmann||Georgetown, 1966||Georgetown Law, 1969|
|Judge Michael Chagares||1962||Pittsburgh, PA||W. Bush||4/20/2006-Present||Michael Chertoff||Gettysburg College, 1984||Seton Hall Law, 1987|
|Judge Kent Jordan||1957||West Point, NY||W. Bush||12/13/2006 - Present||Jane Roth||Brigham Young U. '81||Georgetown Law '84|
|Judge Thomas Hardiman||1965||Winchester, MA||W. Bush||04/02/2007 - Present||Richard Nygaard||Notre Dame '87||Georgetown Law '90|
|Judge Cheryl Ann Krause||1968||St. Louis, Missouri||Obama||7/7/2014-Present||Dolores Sloviter||U. of Pennsylvania, 1989||Stanford Law, 1993|
Active Article III judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of active judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
|Senior Judge Anthony Scirica||Reagan||8/6/1987-7/1/2013||2003-2010||7/1/2013-Present||Wesleyan University, 1962||University of Michigan Law, 1965|
|Senior Judge Leonard Garth||Nixon||8/6/1973-6/30/1986||6/30/1986-Present||Columbia University, 1942||Harvard Law, 1952|
|Senior Judge Walter Stapleton||Reagan||4/4/1985-6/2/1999||6/2/1999-Present||Princeton, 1956||Harvard Law, 1959|
|Senior Judge Morton Greenberg||Reagan||3/23/1987-6/30/2000||6/30/2000-Present||University of Pennsylvania, 1954||Yale Law, 1957|
|Senior Judge Robert Cowen||Reagan||11/9/1987-9/4/1998||9/4/1998-Present||Drake University, 1952||Rutgers University Law, 1958|
|Senior Judge Jane Roth||H.W. Bush||07/02/1991 - 05/31/2006||05/31/2006 - Present||Smith College '56||Harvard Law '65|
|Senior Judge Franklin Van Antwerpen||W. Bush||5/24/2004-10/23/2006||10/23/2006-Present||University of Maine, 1964||Temple University Law, 1967|
|Senior Judge Richard Nygaard||Reagan||10/17/1988-7/9/2005||7/9/2005-Present||University of Southern California, 1969||University of Michigan Law, 1971|
|Senior Judge Dolores Sloviter||Carter||6/21/1979-6/21/2013||1991-1998||6/21/2013-Present||Temple U., 1953||U. Pennsylvania Law, 1956|
|Senior judge Maryanne Barry||Clinton||9/22/1999-6/30/2011||6/30/2011-Present||Mount Holyoke College, 1962||Hofstra University Law, 1974|
Senior judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of senior judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
The Third Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over cases heard in one of its subsidiary districts. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law. Appeals of rulings by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals are petitioned to the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Samuel Alito is the Circuit Justice for the Third Circuit.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over the United States district court in the following federal judicial districts:
- District of Delaware
- District of New Jersey
- Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Middle District of Pennsylvania
- Western District of Pennsylvania
It also has appellate jurisdiction over the United States District Court for the U.S. Virgin Islands which, in spite of the name, is a territorial court and belongs to no federal judicial district.
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases||Terminations on merits:||Terminations on Procedure||Cross Appeals:||Total Terminations:||Written decisions per Judge**|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website (for District Courts) and reflect the calendar year through September. **This statistic reflects only judges that are active for the entire 12 month period.|
For a searchable list of decisions from the Third Circuit, please see: Third Circuit Searchable Opinions
| • Dismissal of suit over mandatory retirement age for PA judges affirmed (2014)|
Judge(s):Thomas Ambro, Kent Jordan, and Jane Roth (Lerner, at al v. Corbett, et al, 13-4184)
|Click for summary→|
|On April 29, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit composed of Judges Thomas Ambro, Kent Jordan, and Senior Judge Jane Roth, upheld a decision rendered by Judge John E. Jones, III of the Middle District of Pennsylvania to dismiss a suit brought by group of Pennsylvania judges challenging the state's retirement age law.
In an opinion written by Judge Ambro, the plaintiff judges' claims were again rebuked, with Ambro stating that their Fourteenth Amendment rights had not been violated. Judge Ambro further noted that the plaintiffs' claims that opinions reached in the United States v. Windsor and Shelby County v. Holder cases before the Supreme Court of the United States served as intervening authority failed as a matter of law, as controlling precedent already existed.
| • Computer hacker's conviction and sentence vacated for lack of proper venue (2014)|
Judge(s):Joseph Greenaway, Thomas Vanaskie, and Michael Chagares (U.S. v. Auernheimer, 13-1816)
|Click for summary→|
|On April 11, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit, composed of Judges Joseph Greenaway, Thomas Vanaskie, and Michael Chagares, vacated a hacker's conviction and prison sentence on charges relating to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
Auernheimer was released after having spent thirteen months in prison.
| • Judges agree that non-fiction book about known affair isn't defamatory (2014)|
Judge(s):Thomas Ambro, Michael Fisher, and Thomas Hardiman (Crecenz v. Penguin Group, Inc.; Capuzzo, 13-1242)
|Click for summary→|
|On March 26, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit, composed of Judges Thomas Ambro, Michael Fisher, and Thomas Hardiman, ruled that a non-fiction book was not defamatory even though it addressed a married woman's affair with her boss.
| • FBI's racial profiling records kept under wraps (2013)|
Judge(s):D. Brooks Smith, Dolores Sloviter, and Jane Roth (ACLU of New Jersey v. FBI, DOJ, 12-4345)
|Click for summary→|
|On October 23, 2013, in a precedential opinion, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit, composed of Judge D. Brooks Smith and Senior Judges Dolores Sloviter and Jane Roth, found that documents requested by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU) from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request were properly withheld. In the underlying case, the ACLU filed a FOIA request seeking access to records concerning the "FBI's use of ethnic and racial data" in its "limited racial and ethnic profiling" as authorized by the 9/11 Commission's final report. The FBI identified 782 pages of documents related to the ACLU's request, but released only 312 pages, citing 186 pages as duplicative and 284 pages as exempt from disclosure. The ALCU filed suit in May 2011, seeking access to all of the documents identified by the FBI. Citing several exemptions to FOIA rules, the FBI filed a motion for summary judgment. This prompted the ACLU to file a cross-motion for summary judgment, requesting that presiding Judge Esther Salas of the District of New Jersey review the documents privately. The ACLU further requested that Salas use a "Glomar-like" procedure in chambers. Judge Salas refused, and granted the FBI's motion for summary judgment. The ACLU filed an appeal. Writing for three-judge panel of the Third Circuit, Judge Smith rejected the ACLU's "novel [Glomarization] proposal," and stated that "ample evidence" was available in support of Judge Salas's decision. Smith further noted that it would be "hard to imagine how the FBI could provide a more detailed justification for withholding information under this exemption without compromising the very information it sought to protect."|
The Third Circuit was established by the United States Congress in 1891 with the Evarts Act of 1891, which established the first nine appeals circuits. Over the years, twelve additional seats were added to the court resulting in a total of fourteen seats.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Third Circuit:
|March 3, 1891||26 Stat. 826||2|
|February 23, 1899||30 Stat. 846||3|
|June 10, 1930||46 Stat. 538||4|
|June 24, 1936||49 Stat. 1903||5|
|December 7, 1944||58 Stat. 796||6|
|August 3, 1949||63 Stat. 493||7|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||8|
|June 18, 1968||82 Stat. 184||9|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||10|
|July 10, 1984||98 Stat. 333||12|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||14|
Former chief judges
In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy in the office of chief judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
For more information on former judges, see former federal judges of the Third Circuit.
The Third Circuit shares the James A. Byrne Federal Courthouse with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In December 2013, the Third Circuit announced that it would be moving forward with a judicial chambers-sharing plan in an effort to save money. The federal courthouse has nine chambers, and instead of building new offices to house visiting judges, three unoccupied chambers would be converted into four smaller offices, with enough space to make room for up to twelve out-of-town jurists. Third Circuit Executive Margaret Wiegand said that the remodeling would "take care of all [the court's] space needs for the foreseeable future," and that if the court "had to rent new space in another building, it would have been very expensive." Thanks to this "innovative redesign," it was projected that the court would save about $250,000 in rent each year.
- Official Website of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals
- List of Third Circuit Judges
- Villanova Law, "Third Circuit Opinion Archive"
- Yahoo Sports, "Former Rutgers QB can pursue lawsuit against EA Sports after winning appeal," May 22, 2013
- FoxNews.com, "Second court invalidates Obama appointments to labor board," May 16, 2013
- PennLive.com, "U.S. Appeals Court backs Pa. judge retirement mandate," April 29, 2014
- RT, "AT&T hacker ‘weev’ to walk free after appeals court agrees to vacate conviction," April 11, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Courthouse News Service, "Exposing Not-So Secret Affair Isn't Defamatory," April 22, 2014
- Courthouse News Service, "ACLU Sues FBI for Racial Profiling Info," May 6, 2011
- Courthouse News Service, "Court Keeps a Lid on FBI's Racial Profiling Records," October 25, 2013
- History of the Third Circuit on the Federal Judicial Center website
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
- Third Branch News, "Appellate Court Saves Money by Making Chambers Space Go Farther," December 4, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "3rd Circuit Saves Money by Sharing Offices," December 10, 2013